Farmer, former cop eyes Safata East Constituency
A 52-year-old farmer and former police officer, Laumatiamanu Mathew Ringo Purcell, is putting up his hand to run again for public office in the 2021 General Election.
The last time he ran was at the 2016 General Election as a Human Rights Protection Party [H.R.P.P.] candidate.
But he has had a change of heart this time and will contest under the banner of the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi [F.A.S.T.], in his bid to take another shot to represent the Safata East seat in the Legislative Assembly.
The father of 10 understands that the Safata East's election is going to be tough, having to contest alongside four other candidates, including the incumbent M.P. of the constituency, Nonu Iose Niumata.
But Laumatiamanu says he is confident he will succeed as he has been preparing for the past five years ahead of the election next year.
"I contested under H.R.P.P. banner in the 2016 General Election, but it was not successful.
"After the election, I felt in my heart that I needed to come back and achieve my dream of becoming a Member of Parliament. That is why I am contesting again, under a different political party, because this is what God placed in my heart."
And running as a F.A.S.T. candidate was not an easy decision to make, Laumatiamanu added. However, he believes the new party "holds the key that will open doors" for new developments in his constituency.
"By choosing F.A.S.T., I strongly believe that it holds the key that will open doors of opportunities which will help me achieve all the plans I have for my constituency.
“The people who are in charge of this political party are people who understand what people really need and their hearts are for the development of our individual families. That was one of the reasons why I decided to run as a candidate for F.A.S.T."
And Laumatiamanu added that he is also following the wishes of the elders from his village.
"When I informed our village about my decision to run in the upcoming election, there were actually two of us, from our village. So when we informed the village, the paramount chief of our village asked us to talk and to discuss, because they want to have one candidate.
"Their word to us was that once the two of us make a final decision on who is going to run, that person will have to run under a different political party, and not the H.R.P.P. They say they want a change in government."
While Laumatiamanu says he appreciates the Government’s work to develop Samoa, he feels there is still more that needs to be done. For his constituency alone, he has a long list of things he will prioritise if the constituents vote him as their next Member of Parliament.
In terms of priorities, healthcare, education, and tourism development are at the top of his list.
"At the moment we do not have a hospital," he told the Samoa Observer.
We used to have a hospital in the last 20 years, but it was demolished by the Government. So right now, we are all using the hospital at Poutasi.
"But for those district hospitals, we usually have nurses and midwives there so whenever there is an emergency case or patient that needs a specialist or a doctor, we make the long trip to the main hospital in Apia.
"But the distance from Safata to Poutasi is almost the same distance as traveling from Safata to Moto'otua hospital. Therefore, we really need to establish a hospital in the Safata district."
In terms of education development, Laumatiamanu is proposing to establish another college and a polytechnic within the Safata district, should he succeed in the upcoming election.
"The village of Sa'anapu is located at the end of this district, that's where the college for the district is located. So the children from all the other villages have to go to it.
“It would be nice to have another college within the constituency so it is convenient for the children and to make sure that they do not have an excuse not to go to school.
"Some kids who do not have cars and buses, they have to wake up early in the morning and walk to school. Some take the bus, but these are public buses so they need to have money to pay for their fares.
"Another thing that we want to establish is to have a polytechnic in the constituency that our children can use. As we've seen nowadays, once our children reach the age of 14 and 15, most of them lose interest in school.
"Therefore, they drop out of school and start doing things adults are doing. They are easily attracted to smoking, drinking and resort to all those bad things because they are no longer in school.
"But having a polytechnic in the constituency will provide an environment where the different skills and talents of our children are nurtured and developed. Not all of us were born to work in an air-conditioned office or become a teacher. We all have different skills and talents from God.
"We just need to push, develop, and nurture these skills. That will also help eliminate the many issues that are affecting our youths nowadays. We see the rise in crimes by our youths and we see so many of them at our prisons, which is not a good thing as they are the future of this country."
Laumatimanu is also eyeing tourism development within his constituency that will offer employment opportunities for the constituents.
"There is a peninsula at Safata, and I hope to develop it into a tourism attraction so it can attract more tourists, but also provide employment opportunities for the people living around that area.
"We also have mangroves in the constituency, but it is not preserved. Nothing has been done to preserve it and to conserve it."
Laumatiamanu said he has already presented his will to contest in his village. And the elders of his village have accepted his wish and given him their blessings.
A former student of Saint Joseph’s College, Laumatiamanu was a policeman for 20 years and made his way up to the rank of senior sergeant before leaving. He then worked at the Samoa Shipping Corporation for a decade and is currently a security advisor for J.I.C.A. as well as farmer.